Destination Louisiane: Biedenharn Museum & Gardens

Destination Louisiane

MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — Did you know the first Coca cola was bottled in Vicksburg by a man named Joseph Biedenharn? He eventually moved his business to Monroe and his house was later turned into a museum.

The museum is called Biedenharn Museum & Gardens in Monroe. There are three exhibits: the bible museum, the historic home and gardens and the Coca Cola museum.  

Inside the Coca Cola museum, you’ll learn about the history of how one family bottled the first coke. It started with Joseph Biedenharn. He had been selling the syrup from the fountain in Vicksburg, but he had never put Coca Cola in a bottle. 

In 1894, that all changed.

“They used this bottle for a few years then they went to a straight sided bottle, then in 1916 they go to what we think of is the classic Coca Cola bottle, which has the curve design, supposedly the best known corporate symbol in the world, so Joe was very much apart of that,” said Ralph Calhoun, Executive Director, Biedenharn Museum & Gardens.

The family soon moved to Monroe, selling candy and bottling coke.

“By the 1990’s, they’re one of the sixth largest bottling operations in the United States. They are not just in Monroe and in Louisiana, they are in a good part of the South, south west part of the country,” said Calhoun.

The Coca Cola museum is located near the historic home that once belonged to the Biedenharn’s. It’s been in Monroe for about 15 years. On display? Historical items and Memorabilia. You can also purchase items from the gift shop.

“We’ve got calendars, we got serving trays, we have toys, maybe the thing people most interested in are the historic bottles. We also have artifacts that deal with Delta airlines . The Biedenharn family were some of the first investors of Delta,” said Calhoun.

But here is what makes this museum even more unique, the soda fountain room.

“We have a soda jerk, they tell you about the history of Coca Cola, the history of the family and Coca Cola and they are very knowledgeable,” said Calhoun.

The Biedenharn  Museum & Gardens is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday. You will have access to all three exhibits, including the coke museum.

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